Lockdown isn’t easy but it is simple.
Homeschooling is over — for now at least — woohoo!! But alongside the celebrations sits some apprehension about what happens next. One thing for sure is now restrictions are easing, life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.
I’m not going to lie, Lockdown in Winter sucks. Badly. Especially with children. Staring at the same 4 walls, long nights, short days, limited desire to go outside and when we do, it’s often bitter, wet and miserable. And don’t even get me started about homeschooling!
Although I have been focused on the 8th March for some time now, the announcement that the children will return to school brought an unexpected mixture of feelings. I wonder if you can relate?
I am happy about the girls going back to school, but I feel some unease about how quickly life will become busy and therefore complicated juggling clubs, play dates, homework along with family visits, seeing friends and working around other people’s schedules and so on. I’m a little bit tired just thinking about it.
I think this all comes down to certainty and the illusion of control. During Lockdown, the World has felt pretty out of control. By staying at home we have been able to narrow our focus onto our own bubbles thus providing us with a sense of control. Once we step into the outside World again, we have to widen our view and in so doing, we are opening ourselves up to a whole lot of uncertainty. With uncertainty comes a loss of control which can feel unsettling.
I call it the illusion of control because I’m not sure we really have control of many things beyond ourselves but it is the feeling that we do that gives us a sense of safety. We all need to feel safe especially when there’s a big bad virus out there trying to get us alongside the events of this week which remind us that the World can be a scary place.
So whilst homeschooling has been tough, it is a known quantity. It may have been fraught with daily arguments; declarations of “I hate stupid, idiot learning!” and battles over division calculations; but at least we knew what we were facing each day when we dragged ourselves out of bed.
Going back to school means a return to frantically checking for texts or emails each morning to see if there are any notifications from school about closures. It means facing the ongoing uncertainty of when (definitely not if) one or other of the class bubbles will close leading to the girls isolating for 10 days. Again.
And if one of us dares to cough or develops a temperature…cue a domino effect of chaos for the whole family while we work out testing and arrange a complete rescheduling of our lives so we can all isolate for 10 days. All at the drop of a hat. Yikes!
On top of that, the return to wearing uniform and actually brushing hair every day, not to mention that I have to get out of my comfy clothes and look presentable for the school run, makes the mornings feel like an episode of Challenge Annika (this will show your age!). Oh and packed lunches. How I had forgotten the monotony of putting food into a box for the children to return 6 hours later; warmer, more squashed but largely uneaten.
That’s what I mean when I say there is some simplicity in Lockdown. It’s not easy, don’t get me wrong, but it is pretty simple. We get to focus entirely on what is right in front of us: our own bubbles. We know what to expect from our days. Our weekends are boring, yes, but they are our own. The lack of external input means there is less pressure to do something or go somewhere (although increased pressure to play Barbies…all day.)
As restrictions ease, I am already aware of pressure to plan ahead and book people in which feels jarring against the nothingness of the last 3 months. I’ve never been much of a planner-aheader so this new reality of booking a farm visit, a trip to soft play or even a catch up with friends 2 weeks before completely blows my mind. I’m more of a wake up in the morning and think “Let’s do something fun today” kind of a gal. It’s going to take some getting used to.
It also feels hard to make space for the needs of others when our focus has been so narrow for the last 3 months. I know that my experience of Lockdown with my family has been very different to those who have been in isolation. My need for peace and quiet is as desperate as their need for human contact so that presents quite the challenge. Again, it’s evidence that although we may have been in the same storm, we are in very different boats.
The final complication when restrictions ease is the social side of life. There is simplicity in knowing that nobody is going out; everyone is at home every evening (in general) and there’s no sense of missing out on anything. As things open up, there’s a serious risk of the dreaded FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out.)
I found this one of the hardest aspects of coming out of Lockdown last time so I’m treading carefully this time round. I’m lowering my expectations of myself and those around me. I have felt pretty unsociable recently so I understand if others are feeling that way too. Perhaps it’s going to take us all a while to reintegrate into society, as a friend of mine said to me this week.
I know that by the end of March, I will be back in the swing of things (just in time for the Easter holidays to throw everything into chaos again) I’m frequently shocked at how quickly we all fall into old routines; after only 3 or 4 days, the school run feels uncomfortably familiar; And do any of us think twice about putting on a mask before entering a shop now? Only a year ago that would have been unthinkable.
I know Lockdown has been hard but I will miss it’s simplicity. However, I feel hopeful that whilst restrictions lifting will lead to more variety and fun in our lives, I can limit how complicated I allow my life to become. After all, we always have a choice.